Iowa is an at-fault state, which means that parties who are at fault in an accident pay for both property damage and bodily injury. Here are some important things to note about the at-fault policy in Iowa:
- Drivers share fault in Iowa, which means that one driver may pay 30 percent of the damages while the other pays 70 percent, based on their degrees of fault.
- The police and insurance providers will assess fault with the evidence available to them.
- Iowa functions under modified comparative negligence law, which means that if you are 50 percent or more at fault, you won’t receive any payments from the other driver for your damages or injuries. If you are less than 50 percent at fault, you can receive payments for injuries or damages subtracted from the percentage of your fault. For example, if you get into an accident that amounts to $10,000 in damages to your vehicle and you are 10 percent at fault, the other driver’s insurance will have to pay $9,000 to cover the damages. In this case, you won’t have to pay 10 percent of the other driver’s damages or injuries, because you are less than 50 percent at fault.2
Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Iowa
While insurers are required to offer you a minimum amount of $20,000 uninsured motorist coverage, you can reject the coverage in writing. A little over 11 percent of drivers (257,011 drivers) in Iowa drive without insurance. While this isn’t necessarily a high number, as Iowa is ranked 28th in the country for the number of uninsured drivers, many drivers opt to take on uninsured motorist coverage in case they get into an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver.3
Iowa is not a stacked state, which means that if you have coverage for more than one vehicle, your limits do not increase based on the number of cars you have covered.
DUIs in Iowa stay on your record for 12 years, and you face a 180-day license suspension for the first offense. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Iowa is 0.15 percent. Additional penalties, especially if you’re under the age of 18, may include a $2,000 fine, nine months of jail time, and a six-month minimum interlock ignition requirement.
Seat Belt Laws
Iowa is one of 35 states that enforces primary seat belt laws, which means that police officers can issue tickets for not wearing seat belts alone, in the absence of any other crime or offense.
Iowa’s seat belt laws also specify that all front-seat occupants and all backseat occupants under the age of 18 must wear seat belts when the car is in motion.
Distracted Driving Laws
If you’re over the age of 18, you may use your phone while driving in Iowa either to talk while driving or to navigate your GPS system; however, texting while driving is banned for all ages and is enforced as a primary law. You can face a $45 fine and two points on your driving record per violation for texting while driving.4
Teen Driving Laws
If you’re a teen driver in Iowa, you’re in luck, because Iowa has some of the most lenient restrictions for teenage drivers in the country.
The minimum age to obtain a learner’s permit in Iowa is 14, and learner’s permit fees are only $6. There are no curfew restrictions for teen drivers. As long as you have an appropriate supervisor in the vehicle (a parent, guardian, or immediate family member over the age of 21), you can have as many passengers in the vehicle as there are seat belts. You might also be glad to know that there are no school requirements in order for you to receive your learner’s permit.
When you turn 16, you can apply for an intermediate license, which allows you to drive between the hours of 5 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. without adult supervision. You can upgrade from an intermediate license to a full license when you turn 17, or you can wait until you are 18 if you want to forgo the learner’s permit and intermediate license requirements.
If you are involved in a violation or crash, you may face the following penalties.
- First offense: Your permit could be suspended, or you could receive a safety advisory letter, which encourages you to improve your safety performance without further intervention.
- Second offense: Your permit will be suspended for 30 days.5
If you are found guilty of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, which is defined as having a BAC of more than 0.2 percent, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or having any amount of a controlled substance in your blood or urine, you may face the following penalties:
- 48 hours to one year in jail
- Up to a $1,250 fine or unpaid community service
- Suspension of driver’s license for up to a year
- Completion of a substance abuse evaluation or substance abuse prevention program
Statute of Limitations for Claims
In Iowa, you have five years from the date of an accident to file a claim for property damage, and two years to file a personal injury claim. If you don’t file a claim for damages or injuries within this time frame, you won’t get coverage.
Cancellation and Non-Renewal Notification Laws
Cancellation is when your insurance company cancels your insurance policy during its term. Non-renewal is when your insurance provider refuses to renew your coverage at the end of its coverage period.
If your insurance provider decides to cancel your policy or opt out of renewing your policy, it must let you know within the allotted period prior to your policy’s expiration date.
|Cancellation vs. non renewal notification law in Iowa
||Cancellations due to fraud, misrepresentation, or driver’s license suspension or revocation
||Cancellations due to nonpayment
|How long your insurer must notify you before your policy expires
Self-insurance is an option in Iowa for drivers who own more than 25 vehicles. The minimum required collateral to be self-insured in Iowa is, however, at the discretion of the Iowa Insurance Division. This means that the Iowa Insurance Division will determine if you’re financially able to be self-insured on a case-by-case basis.
Car Inspection Requirements
Unless your vehicle is registered out of state, you are not required to pass any DMV inspections in Iowa. Because all metropolitan cities in Iowa are in compliance with the U.S. Clean Air Act, you are also not required to pass any emission tests.6
There are no SR-22 requirements in Iowa. Some states require drivers with criminal backgrounds or histories of serious traffic violations to carry SR-22 certificates while driving. An SR-22 is an add-on to your existing insurance policy, and in states with SR-22 regulations, it is required for those who have high-risk insurance policies.
Defensive driving courses can be a good way to get discounts on your car insurance rates. These courses teach safe driving strategies that help you avoid hazards and become aware of common dangers you might encounter on the road.
You might be required to take a defensive driving course if you have three countable moving violations within a year, one speeding violation of driving 25 to 29 mph over the limit, or a ticket for passing a school bus unlawfully. Find a state-approved defensive driving course here: https://iowadot.gov/mvd/driverseducation/Iowa-driver-improvement-program.
Serious Injury and Monetary Thresholds
In Iowa, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit following a lawsuit for any amount up to $1 million. Because Iowa is an at-fault state, each party pays damages or injuries equivalent to their degree of fault.
If you don’t agree with the payout, you can file a suit and seek uncompensated economic damages including medical expenses, lost wages, and noneconomic damages (e.g., pain, suffering, and anxiety). You can file a suit regardless of the monetary value of your losses or the severity of your injuries, as no monetary thresholds exist in Iowa.
Accident Reporting Requirements
Unless the police have already investigated an accident involving a death, injury, or damage of $1,500 or more, you have to file a report within three days or face a license suspension. Learn more about how a license suspension affects car insurance.
Price Discrimination Based on Gender or Credit Score
With the exception of Massachusetts, Hawaii, Michigan, and California, most states in the U.S., including Iowa, look at your credit score and gender to determine your insurance rates. Believe it or not, women pay slightly less on average for car insurance than their male counterparts, and individuals with low credit scores may have to pay nearly double the rate of individuals with exceptional credit scores.
Total Loss Threshold
Your vehicle is considered a total loss when the cost of repairs exceeds its actual market value (AMV). While some states require the cost of repairs to be equal to or greater than the AMV, your damages only need to equal 70 percent of the AMV for it to be considered a total loss.
Since the total loss threshold is significantly lower than the AMV in Iowa, this should provide good news to anyone in a total loss incident. For example, if your car costs $10,000, you only need to incur $7,000 in damages to receive the maximum total loss coverage as stated in your insurance plan.